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Pole and line tuna and baitfish fishery project, Bitung, Sulawesi, Indonesia, May 2015 © Paul Hilton / IPNLF / WWF-Aus

Pole and line tuna and baitfish fishery project, Bitung, Sulawesi, Indonesia, May 2015 © Paul Hilton / IPNLF / WWF-Aus

Wild Seafood

Seafood sustains billions of people and is the largest traded food commodity in the world. But have we bitten the hand that feeds us?

Over 31% of global fish populations are estimated to be overfished and while Australia has an enviable record for fisheries management, 15.5% of our dominant stocks were overfished in 2014.

Poorly managed fishing has impacts far beyond the target species. The incidental catch of non-target species – known as bycatch – is deadly to many native species. Fishing vessels and gear can also entrap threatened and endangered species such as dolphins, turtles, seals and seabirds, and damage sensitive marine habitats.

With the global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, it’s vital that we maintain productive fisheries.

What we're doing

WWF works across the supply chain to protect marine habitats, the species that live within them and the communities that depend on seafood for their livelihoods and food security.

Why it matters 

With the global population expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050, it’s vitally important to sustainably harvest wild-caught seafood and maintain healthy and productive fish stocks. Beyond ensuring food security and nutrition to a large human population, healthy fish stocks are fundamental to healthy marine ecosystems.

Northern bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF


  • Overfishing
  • Bycatch
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing
  • Bottom trawling
  • Threatened and endangered species

  • Overfishing

    Over 31% of our global fish stocks are overfished. WWF works with stakeholders to reform fisheries management globally, focusing on sustainable practices that conserve ecosystems, but also sustain livelihoods and ensure food security.

    The incidental capture and mortality of non-target marine fish and animals during fishing is known as bycatch . WWF works towards the elimination of environmentally-destructive fishing gear and the modification of existing gear to reduce bycatch.

    Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing
    IUU occurs across all types of fisheries, within national and international waters, and in small to large-scale industrialised operations. WWF works with fisheries management authorities and the fishing industry to stop IUU fishing.

    Bottom trawling
    Bottom trawling is the towing or dragging of fishing gear along the seafloor, a widespread fishing method that can cause substantial and irreversible harm to fragile benthic ecosystems. WWF works with stakeholders to minimise the impact of bottom trawling/gear on the environment, including investigating and implementing alternative low-impact gear and practices. We also promote marine protected areas (MPAs), which provide protection for key species and habitats from trawling.

    Threatened and endangered species
    WWF is committed to stopping the decline of threatened and endangered species, such as marine turtles and dugongs, and works towards their recovery. WWF led projects have sought to modify fishing gear to minimise bycatch from fisheries, reduce unsustainable harvests and illegal fishing, and afford protection to sensitive marine habitats.

    What you can do to help

    MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) logo Look for the blue MSC logo when purchasing wild-caught seafood and the green ASC logo when purchasing farmed seafood. By making the choice to only buy and eat seafood that has been harvested and produced to the highest sustainability standards, you contribute to the long-term health of our oceans.


    ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) logoBy implementing this simple change, you not only support and empower fishers and aquaculture farms operating sustainably but also encourage others to follow suit.

    Tell your fish monger and favourite fish restaurant you want sustainable seafood.